THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA – WHAT IS YOUR PATH?

THE FOUR PATHS OF YOGA – WHAT IS YOUR PATH?

Dear Folks in Yoga,

Today I wish to start a series of posts on another very important “foursome” in the journey of Yoga.   Infact this foursome is the very foundation of Yoga teachings. These are the four paths of Yoga, viz;

•           Karma Yoga – The Yoga of action

•           Bhakthi Yoga – Yoga of Devotion

•           Raja Yoga – Royal Yoga

•           Gnyana Yoga – Yoga of wisdom

Firstly, I will try to explain the word Yoga, because this word is often misinterpreted and misrepresented.

Yoga means Union or coming together. It can be construed in many ways. A devotee who worships their favourite form in which you cognize God( Ishta Deivatha in Sanskrit), – be it Jesus Christ, Krishna, Fire, or the formless ONE- may aspire to merge with the form. The aspirant on the path of devotion ( path of love) can strive for union between themself and the embodiment of ( selfless) Love, namely God. The yogi who is not focusing on any forms can achieve the union of all that is in the one concept of God. Those who focus on a form too will realise that the ONE is beyond forms, attributes, and time. This is a journey from the Form to the Formless. Whatever stage the Yogi is in presently, should be seen as progressive evolution, not to be compared and contrasted or condemned. In the path of devotion, you must remember that whatever form you pray to, the prayers reach the ONE God( the God of Love or Universal Consciousness that existed always even before creation). This is the ONE God that Muslims call Allah, Hindus call Brahman, Jews call Yahveh, and Chinese call Tao. Some people do not understand this and impose their stage of the journey on others, this is verily an act that is not acceptable.

Since creation, Yoga has been the lifeblood of Bharatiyas( Indians). This is why Bharat( now called India) has been able to absorb and co-exist harmoniously with all faiths and beliefs, which is the ideal universal religion.

The following is a summarised definition of each type of Yoga and Yogi.

Karma Yogi:

Those who strive through selfless activities and achievements to establish the Union are Karma Yogis. They will always be engaged in activities to foster the welfare of others with no motives behind their actions. They believe to act and serve is their duty and will not stop even if they meet obstacles.

Bhakthi Yogi:

Those who follow the path of love are Bhakthi Yogis. They will direct their love towards God, and be in constant contemplation of God as they go about their worldly duties, be it at the family, work, or community level.

Raja Yogi:

Those who strive to manifest their latent(inner) powers and channelize them to achieve the union are Raja Yogis. They work on their mind to achieve mastery over the vagaries of the mind. They will learn and adopt techniques of concentration, meditation, and similar approaches to quell the vagaries of the mind.

Gnyana Yogi:

Those who stick to logical analysis and rational interpretations and then attain intuitive perception( Gnyana) are Gnyana yogis. They argue that this is not real, that is not real, everything is transient and arrive at the conclusion that God alone is permanent.

All the above 4 paths are interdependent rather than mutually exclusive. These 4 paths infact evolve from one to another or could be even practiced in tandem with each other.

The 4 paths thus provide a way towards Union for Form worshippers and as well those who show no interest in form worship. (because they have evolved out of form worship in this birth or previous births)

Those who waste their time arguing about the relative merits of each path are driven by their ego and infact are like the 5 blindmen who touched the elephant in the Zoo and argued that the elephant was flat, thin, fat, like a snake etc.Karma Yoga is like a river flowing to the sea. The banks of the river that control the flow from becoming a destructive “flood”( meaning pompous activities driven by ego and ulterior motives)  is Bhakthi Yoga and Gnyana yoga. While the river flows it too meets obstacles such as mountains and jungles. The practice of Raja Yoga helps the Karma Yogi to keep his mind under control and one-pointed concentration (like a river cutting a deep gorge to enable its flow towards the see to happen). Yoga Asanas, Meditation,Prana Yama all can be considered as part of Raja Yoga to quell the vagaries of our Mind.

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